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MSHA Warns Eight Mines About Repeat Violations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The federal Mine Safety and Health
Administration said Thursday it has warned eight mining operations
across the country that they may face sanctions as repeat violators
of health and safety rules.

The list includes coal operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and
Alabama as well as a quarry in California and an iron ore mine in
Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

"The purpose of these letters is to put mine operators on
notice about the repercussions they face if they repeatedly
disregard mine safety and health regulations," MSHA director
Richard Stickler said. "The ultimate goal is to restore effective
safe and healthy conditions at these mines."

MSHA said it concluded each of the operations has a pattern of
safety and health violations based on the last eight quarters. The
agency did not identify the violations.

The notification is the first step toward what could be
temporary shutdowns of the operations. Each has 90 days to
significantly reduce the rate of violations while operating under
what MSHA said will be close monitoring. If the rate improves
enough, MSHA said it won't issue a notice of a pattern of
violations.

But if the operations fail to improve enough, MSHA said it can
shut them down until problems are eliminated.

Two of the West Virginia operations are controlled by Richmond,
Va.-based Massey Energy Co. MSHA identified them as the Chess
Processing plant and the Black King I North Portal underground mine
in Boone County. A Massey spokesman did not immediately return a
call Thursday.

MSHA also notified Peachtree Ridge Mining's Eagle No. 1 mine in
Raleigh County. A man who answered at Peachtree declined to
comment.

MSHA identified the Kentucky operations as James River Coal
Co.'s No. 77 mine in Perry County and Left Fork Mining's Straight
Creek No. 1 in Bell County. A James River spokeswoman did not
immediately return a call Thursday. A man who answered at the
Straight Creek mine declined to comment.

MSHA also sent notices to the Oak Grove Mine in Jefferson
County, Alabama, and two non-coal operations: Oro Grande Quarry in
San Bernadino, Calif., and Tilden Mining's iron ore mine in
Marquette, Mich.

Cleveland-Cliffs spokesman Dale Hemmila said Thursday evening
that he had not seen the MHSA notification, "and until I see it
the company just can't comment."

A spokeswoman for Oak Grove's parent company, Canonsburg,
Pa.-based PinnOak Resources, declined to comment. A spokesman for
Oro Grand's parent company, Texas Industries Inc., did not
immediately return a call.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved


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